1. Carol of the Bells / Christophers, The Sixteen

Carol of the Bells / Christophers, The Sixteen

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Christophers elegantly mixes traditional carols, 20th century British standards, and contemporary works, and at every turn, there is something new.

The Sixteen contrasts traditional with contemporary in this choral feast of festive music. Bob Chilcott's sumptuous Advent Antiphons based on plainsong melodies anticipate the coming of Christmas and feature alongside Mykola Leontovich's much-loved Carol of the Bells, Richard Rodney Bennett’s stunning Susanni and Eric Whitacre’s shimmering Lux aurumque. Interspersed with the beautiful simplicity of traditional carols, this is a Christmas collection to savor.

Harry Christophers stands among today’s great champions of choral music. In partnership with The Sixteen, the ensemble he founded almost 40 years ago, he has set benchmark standards for the performance of everything from late medieval polyphony to important new works by contemporary composers. His international influence is supported by more than 150 recordings and has been enhanced by his work as Artistic Director of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society and as guest conductor worldwide. The Sixteen’s soundworld, rich in tonal variety and expressive nuance, reflects Christophers’ determination to create a vibrant choral instrument from the blend of adult professional singers. Under his leadership The Sixteen has established its annual Choral Pilgrimage to cathedrals, churches and other UK venues, created the Sacred Music series for BBC television, and developed an acclaimed period-instrument orchestra. Highlights of their recent work include an Artist Residency at Wigmore Hall, a large-scale tour of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, and the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Symphony No. 5, ‘Le grand Inconnu’; their future projects, meanwhile, comprise a new series devoted to Purcell and an ongoing survey of Handel’s dramatic oratorios.


The title Carol of the Bells might suggest a greatest Christmas hits collection, and that Ukrainian standard is indeed present, but most of the material is a good deal less familiar. Christophers elegantly mixes traditional carols, 20th century British standards, and contemporary works, and at every turn, there is something new. Some of the traditional carols come from an old Oxford publication; Christophers notes that several, such as All in the Morning, have fallen out of use, and his case for their revival is persuasive. The Sixteen's reading of Eric Whitacre's much-recorded Lux aurumque is top-tier, and from the opening Pilgrim Jesus of Bob Chilcott, the program just flows unusually naturally. This is a holiday album that adds new subjects to the conversation even as it upholds some long traditions.

-- AllMusic.com (James Manheim)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 01, 2021

  • Catalog Number: COR16188

  • UPC: 828021618826

  • Label: CORO

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Alan Bullard, Bob Chilcott, Cecilia McDowall, Eric Whitacre, Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells, James Burton, Jonathan Dove, Joseph Phibbs, Kim Porter, Matthew Martin, Michael Praetorius, Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych, Rodney Bennett, Traditional, William Walton

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: The Sixteen

  • Performer: Alexandra Kidgell, Ben Davies, Charlotte Mobbs, Edward McMullan, George Pooley, Julie Cooper, Katy Hill, Mark Dobell, Rob Macdonald, Tim Jones